Saturday, December 26, 2009

Absolved, Chapter 32. Ten Thousand Lawyers, Part Two.


I've decided to cut the second part in two as well, so there will be a third part tomorrow. Sort of like the Twelve Days of Christmas, thing. ;-) Enjoy.


“Recusationers of the permanent, involuntary sort.”

Recusal - (law) the disqualification of a judge, attorney or jury by reason of prejudice or conflict of interest; a judge can be recused by objections of either party or judges can disqualify themselves. – Webster’s Dictionary

When United States Attorneys, or their offices, become aware of an issue that could require a recusal in a criminal or civil matter or case as a result of a personal interest or professional relationship with parties involved in the matter, they must contact General Counsel's Office (GCO), EOUSA. The requirement of recusal does not arise in every instance, but only where a conflict of interest exists or there is an appearance of a conflict of interest or loss of impartiality. A United States Attorney who becomes aware of circumstances that might necessitate a recusal of himself/herself or of the entire office, should promptly notify GCO, EOUSA, at (202) 514-4024 to discuss whether a recusal is required. – United States Attorney’s Manual 3-2.170

As Montrose and Thompson cross-trained on the Welrod and the RAB, their appreciation of the genius of the designers of both weapons grew apace.

The Welrod, after all, was a seventy year old piece of hardware, but its deadly utility was still obvious. But it was Ramsis A. Bear who drew most of their admiration. He had taken the Welrod to a higher plane. It was difficult to do repeat shots on the same target with the Welrod held in one hand, working the action awkwardly from the rear with the other, the muzzle wavering. The RAB, on the other hand had no such problem, especially when used with the stock. The weapon was up, pointed at the target, at all times and as they practiced their ability to do rock-solid single-shots improved.

The greatest difficulty had been, as the designer had warned with those three little words engraved on the side of the weapon, holding the RAB on target in burst fire. Gradually they learned trigger control, using short bursts, and became more proficient, although they wished for a semi-auto position on the selector.

When they asked Wiley Fortner about it, he replied, “Yeah, I know. I suppose it’s my fault. I didn’t ask him for one. If I had, I’m sure he would have provided it. He can invent damn near anything within the laws of metallurgy and physics.”

The next day, a Saturday, dawned crisp and clear. Christmas was coming in a few weeks. Their wives thought they’d gone hunting in West Virginia, but today they would meet the Unit.

They ranged in age from 30 down to 23. All had been in some special operations unit of one branch or another. All had come to the attention of Wiley Fortner over the past few years through friends, gossips, or sometimes headlines. Two were deserters. One had been spectacularly courtmartialed and given a dishonorable discharge for refusing the current administration’s orders regarding Operation Clean Sweep.

He had been represented by the firm of Montrose and Thompson.

“Tommy!” exclaimed Big Jon Thompson when he saw the ex-SEAL. “I might have known I’d find you here. How’ve you been keeping?”

Tom McCallister grinned as they embraced.

“Busy, Big Jon. Busy.”

Thompson grew subdued.

“Yeah, I heard.”

“Been spending a lot of time in general’s bathrooms from what I hear,” said Montrose, as he shook the hand of the Unit’s leader.

The room erupted in general hilarity, some of it obscene.

Fortner intervened.

“Gentlemen, I’d like you to meet my two favorite lawyers, Sam Montrose and Jonathan Thompson. Don’t hold the fact that they’re lawyers against them though. They’re the exception that proves the rule.”

‘You two know Tommy McCallister there. And I’m sure you’ve heard of the two most notorious deserters from the U.S. Army. This is the absconding duo known as Smith and Smith. One of ‘em is named Mark and the other’s named Mike, but I can’t keep track of ‘em so I’ll leave you to figure it out.”

They were both remarkably alike, probably because they were brothers. Early in Operation Clean Sweep, the ATF had kicked in the door of their father’s home in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Being as Harlan Smith was an old man in his late sixties who had lived alone since his second wife had died some years before, the ATF had only brought ten raiders to the party.

It wasn’t enough.

Not only was Harlan Smith an Army veteran and a serious combat shooter in his day, but his son Mark was home on leave from Afghanistan. When the gun cops shot the barking dogs, it was enough warning.

Oh, they killed old Harlan Smith all right, but only after he put four of them down with his M-1 Garand. Mark got the rest, and finished each wounded man carefully with a shot to the head, demonstrating the marksmanship skills taught him in turn by his Dad and then by the instructors of the United States government.

He was on the run after that, joined by his brother Mike who deserted after their father’s funeral. Wiley Fortner had found them, with the help of an old friend in Alabama, in the mysterious way of retired spooks. Fortner gave them shelter, and in time, a way to vent their revenge.

“I’m Mike,” said one, extending his hand to Sam Montrose.

“That makes me Mark,” said the other, extending his as well in turn.

Unspoken was the fact that Mike had earned the Distinguished Service Cross in Afghanistan and Mark had won the Silver Star in Iraq. Between them they had three Purple Hearts.

In their ignorance, the ATF had simply picked on the wrong the people.

“By the way,” Mike added, “The way I look at it, I didn’t desert the United States government. It deserted me, and a whole lot of other people, including my Dad.”

Montrose, knowing the vast hurt behind those words, could only nod.

“And of these other two rascals, that’s Staff Sergeant Fred Dobbin on the right, there. He’s a former Air Force Phoenix Raven team member, graduate of the Army sniper school and damn glad he doesn’t have to wear his asinine reflective belt over his asinine blue ABU’s anymore when he goes home to Detroit. He’s the only one of this crowd who wasn’t forced out of the service. He just got tired of the bullshit and refused to re-up.”

Montrose and Thompson didn’t get the reflective belt and “ABU” references but they laughed with the rest of the Unit anyway.

Wiley Fortner continued, “On the left is Major Frank Han, ex-Army intelligence officer, born in Hong Kong, fluent in six languages and can get around in two or three more. He took an early discharge rather than face a GCM for refusing to obey an order to assist some Brightfire mercenaries on a mission of dubious legality. Dobbin and Han are our tokens in case the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission comes knocking.”

To Montrose and Thompson, they all looked hard as nails. As hard, in fact, as they had been at that age as young light infantrymen.

Fortner indicated with a cough and a wave of his hand that they should take their seats. Then he began with the nuts and bolts of the list, which he had written on a blackboard behind him.

“Gentlemen, we are no longer in the accident business. This mission requires spectacular, targeted and gory wet work and the more publicity the better. Misters Montrose and Thompson have an idea that with two dozen assassinations of prominent attorneys in federal service that we can panic the rest and bring prosecutions by the administration in Operation Clean Sweep and several other oppressive federal programs to a screeching halt. This plan certainly has the advantage of targeting the guilty. There isn’t a person on this list who hasn’t committed treason of one form or another. Each man or woman is responsible for putting innocents in jail, having them killed in bogus raids or seizing property under false pretenses. The ATF counsel who signed off on the Phil Gordon raid is on this list, as is the member of the White House Counsels office who pushed both the current prosecution of the Governor and Attorney General of Alabama and the removal of the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the other Chiefs. In fact, the folks who have been found accidentally dead at our hands these past months all met with him before they signed their own death warrants. Removing him from the scene puts a cap on that mission. Questions so far?”

Mike Smith asked, “Sir, I understand the White House counsel and the attorneys involved in the Clean Sweep agencies, but why people from the Bureau of Land Management, the EPA and Fish and Wildlife Service?”

Sam Montrose spoke up, “Sir, I’d like to answer that since I’m responsible for putting them on.”

“Go ahead,” agreed Wiley Fortner.

Montrose stood up and turned to face Mike Smith.

“Sergeant, Ms. Hartnet of the BLM conducted a blatantly outrageous and unconstitutional prosecution of a rancher named Bill Twombley in western Washington state until she backed him into a financial corner and he lost the ranch that had been in his family’s possession for five generations. The reason? A dispute over grazing rights that the federal government had previously agreed were his, but that Ms. Hartnet felt were no longer. And her real reason? She was friends with a certain Hollywood star who wanted the property for her own possession. Badgered to distraction and faced with what the feds like to call an ‘economic Waco,’ Bill Twombley shot himself. Bottom line, she violated her oath. She should have recused herself and didn’t.”

Mike Smith nodded his understanding.

“Thomas Oliphant, the EPA attorney, perpetrated a similar public fraud on a little old widow lady, Mrs. Hannah Parsons, who lived near a wetlands. He dispatched a dynamic entry team to ‘seize evidence’ in the case. She died of a heart attack after she was thrown to the floor of her living room and handcuffed behind her back.”

“I remember that one,” said Fred Dobbin, “I’ll volunteer to do him.”

Montrose nodded and then continued, “Harriet Farqhuar of the Fish and Wildlife Service prosecuted a Wyoming rancher for shooting a wolf that was attacking his cows. She succeeded in putting Stan Williams in federal prison where he was shanked and killed resisting a gang rape. When informed of that by William’s defense attorney, she merely commented, ‘Well, he shouldn’t have shot the wolf.’ I know this because the defense attorney told me personally of the case and its outcome. He was crying when he told me.”

Montrose paused, and scanned around the room, looking for doubters.

“But there’s one other, larger reason for putting them on the list. They belong to agencies not directly involved in Operation Clean Sweep. By killing them we send the message to every attorney in federal service and bring ALL of their prosecutions to a screeching halt when the rest of them bolt. This is a goodness thing.”

They all laughed, being fans of John Ringo’s novels.

“By doing this we also reduce the available pool of federal attorneys from non-Clean Sweep agencies to be transferred into the ATF and FBI to fill gaps previously created, both by assassination and resignation. Jon and I KNOW these people. We’ve rubbed elbows with them for years, faced off against them in court, we know what makes them tick. Gentlemen, we’re convinced that killing these 23 criminals with law degrees will cause chaos in the system of legal tyranny that they’ve helped create. Considering all the death and chaos they’ve created, it seems like simple justice to us.”

Wiley Fortner interrupted.

“It’s an even two dozen now Sam. Look at the board. Mike and Mark Smith have added a US Attorney in Wisconsin. They did this for what I consider to be valid reasons. I’m sure you will too.”

Fortner didn’t ask if there were other questions or concerns about the target list, but merely moved immediately to the tasking and logistical problems.

“Gentlemen, the biggest problem is that there are two dozen targets spread across the country and only eight of us. The geography alone is very problematic. I considered bringing more help, but frankly with the addition of Sam and Jon we’re pushing the outer envelope of operational security as it is. Consequently we will be forced to work in two-man teams.”

“Now, as most of the targets are in the DC area and we want to make them dead as close together time-wise as possible to prevent them from taking countermeasures when they realize that it is lawyers like themselves who are targeted, I’m assigning three teams to the District, with one team to take care of the seven targets in the West and Midwest.”

“This is a big stretch, but because the one in Denver and the two in San Francisco can probably be done on a Friday and Saturday and not discovered missing until Monday morning, that will give the team driving time from San Fran to Seattle. When the one in Seattle is hit, probably on Sunday afternoon, I doubt the ones in the Midwest will hear about the non-DC actions until Monday, which will give us a chance at them before they’re motivated to change habits. The DC actions will be all over the airwaves, hopefully with a little ‘claim of responsibility’ that only mentions the District, the others won’t feel too pressed to do something until it is too late.

After Seattle, the team will fly by private plane to Chicago, drive to Wisconsin, drive back to Chicago and then on to Saint Louis. Since Mike has his pilot’s license and a stake in the Des Moines action, I am giving him this assignment, which is the trickiest and toughest of all. Sam,” Fortner turned to Montrose, “you will be Mike’s backup.”

Both Smiths were instantly and visibly upset. Fortner cut them off.

“Look, guys, you two together are just too recognizable. You’re both on the run, and Mark is on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List. I know you guys are getting good at disguises but the answer is still no, partly because Mark can’t fly and Sam can. Also, Sam can make up perfectly plausible reasons to be in some of those locations due to his law practice. Am I right, Sam?”


“Besides, Mark, I’ve got a target here in DC you want to be in on. I’ve seen you looking at the board, and you know exactly who I mean.”

Mark Smith now looked more conflicted than angry. Then he grinned.

“You know, sir, for an old fart you don’t miss much,” Mark replied.

“That’s WHY I’m an old fart, Sergeant,” Fortner replied tartly. “Now, do you have any further objection to the assignment?”

Mark shook his head and Fortner turned on his brother.


Mike Smith looked miserable, but replied, “No, sir.”

“I’ve given you the toughest job because I know you can handle it. Also, Sam put most of those folks on the target list. He needs to put his ass on the line if he wants them dead. Right, Sam?”

“Yessir,” replied Montrose, “My money where my mouth is. But, sir, one thing.”


“Can we juggle the assignments a bit? If we start in San Francisco, then go to Seattle and then fly to Denver, then Chicago, I think we can actually get more accomplished sooner.”

“All right, get with Mike after this meeting and explain your reasoning, then if he agrees the two of you sell me on it. If it makes sense, I’ll approve the change and adjust the logistics.”

Montrose immediately moved over to a chair by Mike Smith and they began to talk in low tones while keeping ears open to the larger meeting.

Fortner continued. “Mark, I’m going to pair you with Fred. With the six targets you’ve got to reach, he’ll draw folks’ attention looking all mean and black and that might give you less attention, which you can definitely do without.”

Fred Dobbin laughed in his big, booming way. “Yassir, boss, ah gwine to be de ofay bait.”

“Cut the shit, Sergeant, I know you got straight A’s in high school and then went to the University of Michigan and studied philosophy for a couple of years. I also know what the Air Force says your IQ is, and that when you’re in academia you speak better English and use bigger words than I do. If I really want to embarrass you I’ll tell these gentlemen what mental midgets they are compared to you.”

Dobbin snapped in. “Yes, sir, Cap’in.”

“Dobbin, I retired as Colonel Fortner.”

“Yes, sir, Colonel, sir.” Dobbin had adopted his poker face, but he was shaking with silent laughter. So was everyone else in the room.

Wiley Fortner, pissed, but not too pissed, shook his head. “I give up.”

Then he fixed Tom McCallister in his gaze.

“Tom, you’ll take Han on the White House counsel job first, then work your way down the other four. Big Jon and I will take the last six. It’s going to be tough, gentlemen, and I don’t expect all of us will make it through. Some of these guys are not pansies and after a short time, they’re going to be guarded tightly, although how competently I can’t say.”

“Hell, sir,” offered Mark Smith, “All the competent ones are on our side.”

Fortner snapped back, eyes blazing.

“No, they’re not and don’t you forget it. The moment you do, you’re dead. Hell, you may be dead anyway. We all may be. Look, I’ll do the best I can at gathering further intel on these people before we strike but the fact of the matter is that we’ll be doing more with less than we ever have. The mission requires it. So I expect we will have losses. Just do your damnedest to make sure it isn’t you and your teammate. And do your job and recusal ALL their asses.”

Montrose laughed out loud and Fortner turned on him, still blazing.

“What’s your point?” he demanded.

Montrose shifted in his chair and then decided to tell him the truth.

“Sir, ‘recusal’ is when the attorney or judge removes himself willingly from the case because of a conflict of interest. What we’re going to be doing is called ‘recusation,’ the process of removing someone from a case involuntarily.”

Montrose grinned.

“I suppose you could say we’re ‘recusationers of the permanent, involuntary sort.’”

Fortner looked at him sourly, though the other men of the Unit were chuckling.

“Well, okay then, I sure as shit wouldn’t want to use the wrong legal term when we’re killing lawyers. So let’s go recusation their asses, then.

On that, everyone in the room agreed.


Happy D said...

Thank you again Mike.

neal said...

I can't wait for part 3, or for the finished book for that matter.

Anonymous said...

Its a clever scam by MV: post mere segments and the hits rise and rise until Google is begging to let them run ads here. Are we mere pawns being manipulated by those whose God is sheer greed??? Oh, Mike, say it isn't so!

However, if it is, then this pawn is checking back in 12 hours or so for the next fix... De Pawno Liber


Sean said...

I detect a Henry V moment afoot, yet anon, it does arrive.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff! BTW I've added a (III) to my signature block.